If you wanted to build a castle in medieval England, you needed permission from the king. They’re supposed to be for the defence of the realm, but sometimes you just want to fake out the neighbours.
Deep in the vaults of the Bank of England are banknotes, legal tender, for 100 million pounds each. These may be the most valuable banknotes in the world.
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, also killed the famous author of one of the earliest encyclopedias.
Underneath many large cities lie buried and lost rivers. Sometimes, they return to the surface world.
What do you get when you cross three motorways, two railway lines, three canals, and two rivers? The first junction to be called spaghetti.
Around 1200 BCE, almost every civilisation in the Eastern Mediterranean collapsed, or just barely survived. One possible culprit were invaders from across the sea: the Sea Peoples. No-one knows precisely who they were.
In late 1940s Hungary, the highest inflation rate ever recorded led to the creation of a banknote valued at one hundred quintillion pengő.
Peter the Great founded a drinking club when he was a young man. Because he was tsar, he took it too far.
In France, China, and Sudan you can marry a ghost.
In the 1950s and 60s, foreign music was censored in the Soviet Union. So bootleggers made illegal records out of old X-ray film: the jazz on bones.
In Gibraltar, the main arterial road out of the territory intersects the runway of the international airport. Every time a plane lands or takes off, the road has to be closed.
Up until 2012, 1% of the population of Greenland lived in the same apartment building.
I say, after brekkers do you want to see if Tollers from the Bodder wants to play some rugger or soccer for eccer? This “er” slang abbreviation came from Oxford University, where it has been in use since the 19th century.
Batman lives in Gotham City. Where did the name come from? Its history follows a circuitous route via the 19th century equivalent of Mad magazine, smart idiots who hated public infrastructure, goats, and Robin Hood’s King John.
Horse-drawn canal boats made up the early British Industrial Revolution’s transportation network. But they presented a tough problem: how to get a horse from one bank of a canal to another, without disconnecting the rope?